It’s time to call a truce in the outrage wars, or we all lose

Some argued that Right-wing outrage mobs would force the Left to reconsider its use of mobs and economic pressure tactics, but it was never clear how this détente would play out. The two sides can’t sit down, sign a cease-fire, and exchange prisoners; outrage mobs don’t have a central command that can negotiate a truce.

Even if some on the Left are now realizing the dangers of allowing Internet mobs to make personnel decisions and drive political dissenters out of business, it is not clear how they can reign in the mobs they previously tolerated and even encouraged. And those on the Right who embraced (however reluctantly) such tactics are likewise unable to control the rabble on their side.

Even if majorities on both sides grow sick of outrage mob tactics, they will be difficult to stop so long as fervent minority factions embrace them. That will only drag people back into the cycle of reprisals. There will not be a winner in the outrage wars, only losers. Perhaps it was necessary for the Right to flex its muscles to make this clear, but now it is time to seek peace, and to reengage in politics without using outrage mobs to inflict economic punishment for political disagreement. But this will be difficult. It is hard to restore broken norms.